Carter Center program
Last month, Ethiopia became a food exporter for the first time, with assistance
from Sasakawa-Global 2000, known as SG 2000. SG 2000 is a partnership between
the Sasakawa Africa Association and The Carter Center's Global 2000 program.
contributes to Ethiopian surplus
On Jan. 13, Ethiopia sent its first shipment of maize to Kenya. "I
had always hoped to live to see Ethiopia producing enough grain to feed
its people but had never expected it to happen so soon and so fast,"
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said in a recent letter to President
Carter. "We are all very grateful for what you have done to make our
wildest dreams come true."
As recently as 1985, people in the developed world routinely saw images
of men, women and children starving in Ethiopia. Today, Ethiopia's record-breaking
harvest amounts to more than 11 million tons of grain. Last fall, farmers
harvested a bumper crop, and the country not only became self-sufficient,
but also enjoyed a grain surplus. "We estimate that we will have a
surplus of between one-half million and 1 million tons of maize, roughly
the equivalent of the grain shortfall we had in 1984 and 1985," Meles
"Ethiopia has engineered a magnificent success," Carter said.
"The commitment to development by the government and the people of
Ethiopia has launched a rebirth of their nation."
By instituting sweeping governmental policy changes, joining together with
hundreds of thousands of small-scale farmers, and collaborating with SG
2000, the prime minister and the people of Ethiopia have begun leading their
country to newfound prosperity.
"In 1986, SG 2000 was formed to help small-scale farmers increase food
production by improving the yield and quality of their crops," said
Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug, who leads the program. Since 1993,
SG 2000 has operated in Ethiopia as part of the national extension service
of the Ministry of Agriculture. "Together, we show farmers how to plan
extension management training plots (EMTPs). The farmers cultivate these
one-acre sites using high-yielding seeds, new fertilizer methods and more
productive timetables for planting, weeding and harvesting," said Marco
Quinones, SG 2000 country director for Ethiopia.
In 1994, a turning point occurred when Meles accompanied Carter to one of
Ethiopia's EMTP sites. "We traveled in farm clothes, so as not to attract
attention," Carter said. "As we talked to local farmers who were
using the SG 2000 methodology, Prime Minister Meles became increasingly
impressed with their very high crop yields, often three to four times that
of the average yield, and with their irrepressible enthusiasm for the new
farming techniques." The prime minister returned to Addis Ababa and
began the Intensified Extension Campaign, which is fully backed and supported
by the government at all levels. In 1996, the government sponsored 350,000
Although the government's investment has paid handsomely, many challenges
remain. SG 2000 also works with extension workers and farmers to improve
the country's infrastructure in processing, storing and transporting maize
to other countries. "It is time for us to redouble our efforts, encouraged
by our achievements so far," the prime minister said.
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